Service-learning offers a unique opportunity for Shlenker students to become involved with the Houston community in a tangible way by integrating service projects with classroom learning. Service-learning engages students in the educational process, using what they learn in the classroom to solve real-life problems. Students not only learn about democracy and citizenship, they become actively contributing citizens and community members through the service they perform.
Service-learning can be applied across all subjects and grade
levels; it can involve a single student or group of students, a
classroom or an entire school. Students build character and become
active participants as they work with others in their school and
community to create service projects in areas like education, public
safety, and the environment.
One of our Core Values is tikkun olam, the idea that we are God’s partners in repairing the world. Teachers in PreK-4 and each elementary grade level have developed hands-on, age-appropriate activities that help students learn many ways they can engage in tikkun olam. Below are descriptions of our current activities:
together with their Fourth Grade Buddies, "adopt” an early childhood
center in a low-income neighborhood. The children collect gently used
clothing and shoes, school supplies, and toiletries for students at the
early childhood center. Students also exchange letters and visit each
other. Prior to Thanksgiving Break, PreK-4 and fourth grade students
prepare food baskets for the early childhood center.
Kindergarten students dedicate one month’s worth of their weekly tzedakah to adopting an animal at the Houston Zoo. Adopting an animal provides teachers with an opportunity to impart many valuable tikkun olam lessons, not the least of which is the need to protect and nurture wildlife.
First grade students make blankets for patients at Texas Children’s Hospital. This helps our children learn the values of bikur cholim (visiting the sick) and chesed (kindness).
Second gradestudents raise money by seeking pledges for the books they read during a certain time period. The money they raise is used to make teddy bears at "Build-A-Bear." These bears are then donated to the Houston Fire Department, where they will be distributed to injured, sick, and frightened children who must ride in ambulances.
Third grade students raise money by seeking pledges for books they read. However, these students donate their funds to Texas Hearing and Service Dogs. Before their pledge drive begins, the students participate in the Shlenker "Wheel Chair Olympics” and meet a service dog in order to understand how these canine companions help their owners.
Fourth grade students partner with their PreK-4 Buddies to make Thanksgiving food baskets for the students at the early childhood center they have adopted.
Fifth grade students visit monthly to Seven Acres Jewish Geriatric Center. Before meeting residents, Shlenker students receive training about how people change as they age and how to speak to the elderly residents. Students interact with residents in a variety of different activities, from art projects to planting Tu B’shevat seeds, to playing games.
Throughout the year, students in Kindergarten through fifth grade bring coins to school weekly to put in their classroom tzedakah boxes. The boxes are emptied periodically, and the funds accumulated. The Director of Jewish Learning consults with the Student Senate, which directs the distribution of funds. Each year, the funds are distributed to a variety of organizations such as Jewish Family Service, Jewish National Fund, Nature Conservancy, American Heart Association, and more.
All families are encouraged to participate in Congregation Beth Israel’s Mitzvah Day, usually held one Sunday in the Spring.